Estrogen and the skin
During menopause, decreased estrogen levels may cause skin problems to develop.
Estrogen plays a vital role in keeping the skin young, elastic, and healthy. Estrogen helps the skin by:
- Stimulating the production of oil, collagen, and other substances involved in skin health.
- Promoting wound healing.
- Reducing inflammatory skin disorders during pregnancy or periods of high estrogen.
- Possibly protecting against mortality from melanoma and other skin cancers.
- Providing some protection against sun damage.
How menopause affects the skin
While decreasing estrogen levels do have an impact on a person's skin, there are many other factors involved in skin health. These factors can include:
- sun exposure or damage
- fat redistribution
Skin changes that may occur during menopause include:
There is no evidence to suggest that menopause is linked to a specific type of rash. However, as a woman approaches menopause, the body becomes significantly more sensitive to changes in temperature, particularly heat.
During and before menopause, a woman may suddenly feel hot and sweaty, causing her face to become flushed or red. These are known as hot flashes, and they can be mild or severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Decreased estrogen levels can cause the skin to become itchy, sensitive, or irritated. Women may also notice that they are more sensitive to itchy fabrics, soaps, or beauty products. Scratching at itchy skin can cause hives and rashes.
A woman who has a rash should consider switching to natural or fragrance-free products to reduce irritation and inflammation. If rashes become especially problematic, she should see a dermatologist for further advice.
The decline in estrogen and other hormones can cause changes in a woman's hair, causing it to thin or fall out.
During menopause, women may also notice that hair begins to grow on their face where it had not previously grown. This can include under the chin, along the jawline, or on the upper lip.
Women have many options for dealing with unwanted facial hair. Waxing and shaving are easy at-home options. A dermatologist can provide other options, such as laser treatment or hair removal cream.
As estrogen levels fall, it can cause the skin to get thinner and more delicate, meaning it is more easily damaged. Thinning skin can even lead to more frequent and noticeable bruising.
It is essential to use an SPF 30 sunscreen every day, even when not spending a lot of time in the sun. While sunscreen cannot treat thinning skin, it can prevent it from getting worse.
A woman should see her dermatologist if thin skin presents a serious problem with tearing or injury. The doctor may be able to suggest medical treatments that can help manage the problem.
In addition to thinning skin, women in perimenopause or menopause are more likely to have issues with dry or flaky skin.
This is because estrogen helps the skin to hold on to water, keeping it soft and moist. Without estrogen, the skin is prone to drying out.
To prevent dry skin, people can use a gentler cleanser, as traditional soaps can be particularly drying for older women. Moisturizing right after showering or bathing is best.
People should avoid using exfoliants or other strong products because they can be particularly damaging to delicate or dry skin.
Age spots are a common complaint of menopausal women. This is usually a sign of sun damage that has occurred throughout a woman's lifetime.
Wearing sunscreen consistently and from an early age is the best way to prevent age spots and skin cancer developing later in life.
Some types of skin cancer can look like an age spot, so it is essential to see a dermatologist regularly. The risk of skin cancer increases with age and sun exposure.
An oil-free moisturizer is recommended to keep the skin soft.
Skin changes are a common complaint among women during or approaching menopause.
While these issues are the result of normal hormonal changes, there are a few things that women can do to help prevent them from happening or getting worse. Simple steps include:
- Using moisturizer: An oil-free moisturizer can help to keep skin thick and soft. Choose something gentle and free from perfumes or dyes to minimize the risk of irritation.
- Wearing sunscreen every day: Regular use of sunscreen can help prevent skin damage from sun exposure.
- Taking sun protection seriously: In addition to wearing sunscreen, wear hats, sunglasses, and other protective clothing to keep the skin covered up while exposed to the sun.
- See the dermatologist: It is important for women to see a dermatologist every year. In addition to screening for cancer or other suspicious marks, it is also a great opportunity to ask questions about problems or concerns about the skin.
While there is no evidence that menopause can cause a rash, it is common for women to experience reddening and irritation of the skin during a hot flash. This is usually short-lived and will resolve once the hot flash goes away.
Avoiding skin irritants, applying sunscreen daily, and seeing a dermatologist can help women manage or prevent some of the other skin conditions associated with menopause.